July 8, 2008
As I noted yesterday, Cleveland NPR station WCPN is doing a 3-part series on cord blood stem cells. Today the second installment,
From a Life to the Lab: Following the Path of Cord Blood Stem Cells, follows the cord blood from collection in the delivery room to its destination at the cord blood stem cell bank and its processing.
There is a real need for more cord blood collection, and more public banks so that matches can be made for transplant. Historically, it was thought that with the small amount of cells from cord blood, only a small person (an infant) could be treated. Leading cord blood researcher Dr. Mary Laughlin discusses how they moved into treating adults: "My colleagues at Duke were testing this new stem cell source in children - the thought process at that time was that there were insufficient cells to engraft an adult." But Laughlin ran the numbers and disagreed. Three new England journal of medicine papers, and several hundred success stories later, she had convinced her colleagues she was right.
Tomorrow in the 3rd part of the series, they will look at the treatments in which cord blood is already used for patients, and potential therapies that are coming.